2017-03-13 / Sports

Cold shooting night leads to early NCAA exit for Lady Saints

STAFF REPORT

Limestone College women’s basketball team could not overcome a cold shooting night and a bevy of turnovers Friday in a 70-50 loss to Lander in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament.

Limestone shot 33 percent from the floor and had 22 turnovers. Lander finished with a 27-3 advantage in points off turnovers.

Jasmine Richardson hit a driving layup on the first possession of the second half for a 26-23 Limestone lead. Lander responded with a 17-0 run to take control of the contest.

Limestone turned the ball over eight times during that span, allowing the Bearcats to grab a 40-26 lead with 3:55 left in the period.

The Blue and Gold scored seven of the final 12 points in the quarter, capped by senior guard Jasmine Kearse’s three-pointer from the wing. But Lander would maintain a 44-33 cushion at the end of the third.

Trailing 54-39 with 6:38 remaining, the Saints put together one last push as a 3-pointer by Keidra Smith started a string of six straight points to close the gap to nine. That would be the closest that Limestone would get, however, as the Bearcats used an 11-1 run over the next three minutes to put the contest out of reach.

Limestone got off to a good start in the game as Kearse knocked down a triple to start the scoring for the Blue and Gold. Smith converted an old-fashion three-point play to stake the Saints to a quick 6-0 lead with two minutes gone by in the first. Six points by Kearse highlighted an 8-2 spurt to give Limestone a 16-7 advantage with 3:20 left in the opening quarter. Richardson would add another layup late in the period as the Saints ended the first with an 18-12 lead.

Smith connected from long distance on the other end as the Saints pulled ahead 21-14 with 6:45 remaining.

That was the only scoring for the Blue and Gold over the first nine minutes of the quarter, allowing the Bearcats to take the lead, 23-21, behind a 9-0 run. A layup plus a free throw by Kearse with 57 seconds left on the clock would close the scoring in the half as Limestone took a 24-23 halftime lead.

Kearse wrapped up a prolific career by posting a team-high 17 points. Smith finished with 13 points and six rebounds while Richardson added 11 points.

Smith hit from downtown to pull Limestone to within nine points early in the fourth, but Lander countered with a quick 5-0 spurt to make it 50-36 game with 8:50 remaining. The Bearcats would then extend the lead to 15 points a couple of minutes later.

Kearse ends her career as the program’s all-time leader in points (2,097), assists (496), three-pointers (400), games played (132), and games started (121) while finishing third all-time with 293 career steals.

During her tenure, Limestone won four Conference Carolinas regular season championships and three Conference Carolinas tournament crowns in posting a 118-13 record.

Limestone finished this season at 27-5 overall.

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